Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Why we need Christmas today more than ever

“Happy Holidays.” “Season’s Greetings.” Each year we lose a little more of Christmas. Nativity scenes are replaced with Santa displays. Malls are replacing churches. Christmas is on the way out.

And it’s unfortunate. We need Christmas today more than ever.

Photo Credit Vito Galgano (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit Vito Galgano (Creative Commons)

Christmas teaches us to wait

In our family we do Advent in preparation for Christmas. On the practical side, it is the only way to keep our kids from asking every morning, “Is it Christmas yet?” More meaningfully, it teaches our kids to wait.

Its not just my kids who hate to wait. We, in the west, are the most impatient society in history. We have wound the world up so fast—communication speed, cooking speed, travel speed—that a day seems like forever. “Instant” is the goal. Instant message. Instant rice. Instant everything.

Yet, Christmas is about waiting. And I am not simply speaking about presents under the tree. The message of the ancient prophet Isaiah hung in the air for more than half a millennium:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.

Some grew tired of waiting and ran after fakers and posers. Others lost hope. Then, just when the world could wait no more, this child, whose shoulders can bear up governments and nations, was born.

We need Christmas to teach us how to wait.

Christmas redefines power

How would this child king arrive? How would his kingdom spread?

For centuries, scholars debated and revolutionaries speculated about this child king. Most imagined a warrior on a white horse brandishing a sword. Most imagined powerful fists to crush the enemy. Most imagined heavy boots to stomp out the oppressors.

Most were wrong.

We miss it today too.

We scrap and scratch for power.
Power in the home
Power at work.
Power in the world.
Power over the opposite sex.
Power over our kids.
Power over our parents.
Power over our enemies.
Power over our friends.
We are obsessed with power. Because power means control. It means we get what we want. It means we win.

Christmas tells a different story. The most powerful force in the universe stooped low to lift the powerless and lowly. He did not use power for himself or for his people alone. He used his power to give hope and life to the whole world.

The world designs weapons, builds arsenals, forms alliances, and consolidates power.
The child king heals the sick, speaks the truth, and takes death upon himself.

Christmas is the ultimate power play. But the invasion is not with weapons of mass destruction. It is a child in a manger.

Christmas refocuses us on our true need

On Christmas day, living room floors will fill with colorful paper as children gleefully unwrap their gifts. It is the image most associated with Christmas today. However, the Christmas story reminds us what we need most is not more stuff.

You wouldn’t know that watching TV. In our commercialized culture, every holiday is an opportunity to sell you something. We buy in and pay out. But by the new year we feel more empty than before. Deep inside we know the gift we most need cannot be bought.

The gift we long for is not a thing, but a person.

Christmas reminds us we have a relational problem that cannot be fixed with physical solutions. We don’t need gold, frankincense and myrrh. We need a child swaddled in the hay. A Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Fortunately, the gift we most need has already been given.  May we all experience his peace this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!


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When Santa Came For Dinner: What the man in red taught me about the baby in the manger

This short e-book is the true story of my young family’s encounter with a mall Santa during Christmas 2008. Not only did he come for dinner, he lived with us for three weeks. I hope it adds meaning and purpose to your Christmas season.

It’s my gift to you. That means FREE.

Join my exclusive newsletter below (also free) and follow the instructions to get your copy today. If you are unsure, you can read the beginning of the story here.


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